University mandates boosters for students

Earlier today, University President John Bravman announced that COVID-19 booster vaccines would be required for all eligible students effective January 7, 2022. Bravman cited “the steep rise in COVID-19 cases, driven in part by the highly contagious omicron variant” as motivation for the decision.

While those unvaccinated due to religious or medical exemptions will also not be required to receive a booster, Bravman explained, “[t]here will be no exemptions granted for the booster requirement for students who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

A growing number of universities nationwide have begun to mandate booster vaccination for the spring semester, with Syracuse University, Wesleyan University, and Smith College pursuing this path earlier in the month.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 other schools have mandated the booster.

“The benefit to getting the booster shot is an even higher level of protection from getting infected, from spreading that infection, and from serious illness,” Professor of Biology Ken Field, an expert on immunology and cell biology from the biology department, noted in an email to The Bucknellian last month.

When asked about Bucknell’s booster mandate, Field was unequivocal; “Bucknell has put protecting its community first by adopting this policy and it will save lives, I believe.”

“The recent closures of several schools similar to Bucknell in the northeast shows that we are not through with this pandemic yet,” Field added. “The booster shots will help us weather the Omicron storm that is likely to be surging in late January. Boosters will help protect students from getting sick, from transmitting the virus to other (more susceptible) people, and from the well documented effects of long COVID.”

“I am glad that we are protecting our community,” he concluded.

COVID-19 booster vaccines were approved by the FDA for fully-vaccinated adults in mid-November, and are currently produced by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Multiple countries have also approved booster administration, including Canada, Brazil, the UK and EU, as well as Israel and South Korea.

The Bucknellian will continue to provide updates on this developing story.

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